Monthly Archives: June 2012

Remembering a Jewish Hero

Coming out of the horrors of the Holocaust, the modern State of Israel was formed.  There were men and women who took it upon themselves to lead the way in what was the defense and protection of the Jewish people.  With immense gratitude to those who fought and risked everything for this purpose the Jewish people and the State of Israel live on today.  The future is uncertain and concerning, but without people such as Yitzhak Shamir it might not even be a discussion today.  With that in mind I say, Rest in Peace to Yitzchak Shamir, an Israeli leader and a Jewish hero.  May you be always remember with blessing.

In Support of Greek Jewry

As documented in the book Jew Face, the nation of Holland had 75% of its Jewish population murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.  Another nation with one of the smaller Jewish populations which suffered similar devastation was the country of Greece.  Between 60,000-70,000 Greek Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, most of them in Auschwitz.  At the end of the war an estimated 8-10,000 survived.  Keeping alive the rich history and culture of Greek Judaism with such a small number remaining is a difficult task, one which my friend Richard Solomon has taken upon himself to do.  The following is a link where you can acquire a CD  of a discussion about Greek Jewish history and the Greek Jewish Synagogue and Museum of New York.Go to and help keep alive the Greek Jewish history and culture.

Europe 1940 to Euro 2012

Whenever possible, Holland’s Heroes attempts to take current events and link it to the story in Jew Face.  Sometimes it is an obvious connection, sometimes it is a stretch requiring imagination, and occasionally it is a connection that in its insignificance is mildly entertaining and sometimes even funny or ironic.  This particular post falls into that last category.

Over the next 5 days the champion for Euro 2012 International Football(soccer) tournament will be crowned.  The semifinal matches are as follows.  Today, Spain against Portugal.  Tomorrow, Germany against Italy.

The book Jew Face is the story of my parents Nardus and Sipora Groen, primarily surrounding the events taking place between 1940-1945.  My mother’s maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes.  A Dutch Jew from Spanish-Portuguese descent, my mother spent 5 years either hiding or running from the Nazi killing machine with the help of my father Nardus Groen.  This book chronicles the events that took place as they lived through the time when Germany occupied Holland.  One of Germany’s allies during World War II; Italy.

I think the irony is obvious.  The not so obvious question, seeing as these countries are very different countries today is, who would I like to see win this thing.  I will keep that answer to myself.  At least for today.

Another special review of the book

The following is a wonderfully written review of the book Jew Face written by my friend Tessa Henry.  Thank you Tessa for your beautiful words.

Survival is probably the strongest and most primal of all human instincts. It is used and misused to justify so much. The most heinous and amoral behaviors are explained by “it’s a fight for our very survival”, as once again, it’s a primal instinct we can all relate to. So what does one do when confronted by the epitome of evil? When your very existence…MORE

Introducing the Book Excerpt Page


What’s good about this book?

Having written this book, I am always slightly skeptical of those who compliment me directly after reading it.  It’s not that I question the integrity of these people, nor do I doubt that the book is a good read, it’s merely the fact that I would never expect someone to look me straight in the face and say something bad about the book. Most people just won’t do that.  So when people tell other people they like the book and they tell me why, that element of doubt is eliminated.

This is what I have been hearing.  People can’t put the book down.  I’ve heard it is a moving story, told in an easy to read, enjoyable fashion.  Many have read it in 1 or 2 sittings and complained slightly that there was not more they could read about the characters in the book.  Some have been educated by it, others inspired.  Either way the result is a good one.

Now here are some basic things I wanted to accomplish in my writing of the book.  First and foremost I made sure to never lose sight of the horrors that took place.  Although this particular story has a feel good element to it, I made sure to give a real account of the suffering, fear, and loss of life inflicted on the Jewish people.

The next thing I felt was critical was to clearly show the greatness of the te Kieftes.  For those of you who do not know, the te Kieftes were the family that hid my mother for almost a year and a half despite the risk to their own life.  I’ve been told that I accomplished my goal regarding them.

The next critical element for me was to make this a story of good against evil and make the distinction very clear.  I did this by not expanding on the personalities of the good people.  The evil were the Nazis or any collaborators of the Nazis.  Anyone else was good.  Every single one of these good people had flaws.  This was not a book about their flaws and therefore was not part of the book.  This was important to me and something I accomplished so well that some have commented on how the good people seemed almost too perfect.  Fine with me. Compared to the Nazi animals these people were perfect.

Lastly, I wanted to speak of the love between my mother and father.  The interesting thing I discovered was that everyone has a different standard when it comes to love stories.  So for some it was very much a love story, while for others even more of a love story would have been acceptable.  Either way, when people finish the book they realize the love that was there.

Just one more point I would like to make.  Even with that slight element of skepticism I have for direct compliments, I still do like and appreciate them.  I tried to create something important here and any affirmation of that makes it slightly more successful.  So for those of you who have spoken well of the book, thank you very much and tell your friends.  In the meantime, happy reading to you all.

The love story in Jew Face

In a random conversation a few weeks back, after mentioning my book, I jokingly suggested to a young woman that I should promote Jew Face as the perfect book to read upon completing Fifty Shades of Grey.  She grinned slightly and lifted up the book she was reading, Fifty Shades Darker, the second in the Fifty Shades trilogy.  I proceeded to ask her what would cause her to be drawn to my book.  She responded with the words, “if it was a love story”.

Well for those of you wondering, Jew Face is the story of a woman unable to move safely in her home town of Amsterdam due to what in those days in that city was her very Jewish face, and a Jewish man who looked like a regular Dutchman, who took it upon himself to see to her safety regardless of the danger involved.  His emerging love for the woman and her initial trust and faith that steadily turned into a deep and long lasting love is the foundation of the entire story.

So for those looking for a love story, there is a reason the subtitle is  ”A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland.”  This story revolves around so many different aspects, with love very much in the forefront.

A story of Good against Evil

There is an absolute good and there is an absolute evil.  Everything in between is open for interpretation.  And sometimes it is not even relevant.

How to buy the book

The Color Blue & White

The other day I was having a conversation with a relative about the concept of anti-Zionism and how it relates to anti-Semitism.    I hold the position that they are one in the same, while my relative felt that although anti-Zionism often is modern-day institutionalized anti-Semitism, it is not always the case.  This whole conversation began when I mentioned how I had just heard of Pink Floyd boycotting Israel and how it had impacted my life knowing that a band I had once considered one of my favorites had no gone to the increasing pile of celebrities I had no use for based on them being anti-Semitic.  The argument was presented, by others on the table as well, that there are plenty of Israelis who are opposed to the government, and they of course are not anti-Semites.    So I spent some time thinking about this, considered their argument, and came to this conclusion.  They’re wrong.

First of all, opposition to the current government or any government in Israel is not anti-Zionism.  Although I don’t always appreciate the way people oppose a sitting President or government policies in the United States, I don’t accuse someone of being anti-American or unpatriotic when doing so.  The foundation of all modern civilized countries is freedom.  Freedom does not mean always liking what your leaders do and it does not mean you need to be quiet about how you feel.  So opposition to government policy is not anti-Zionism.  Anti-Zionism is at best a misrepresentation of Israeli policy in order to smear Israel’s image, and at worst a refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to have their own state.  The latter is the key to my argument.  Israel was formed, and still is a Jewish state.  It is a state that allows other religions to live freely, despite the claims of the likes of Roger Waters and most recently Alice Walker, and it is a country that does not sponsor, support, or fund terrorist organizations.  Israel is a democracy.  Not the kind where the military will limit the results of power provided by the people in an election, and not the kind that elects fundamentally racist, bigoted and violent governments.  It is the kind of democracy where people can live freely and with basic human rights.

The Palestinians in the West Bank were not even wanted by King Hussein’s Jordan in 1967, so when Israel captured the territory where they resided after the 6 Day War, the conditions of the people living there actually improved.  Yasser Arafat plundered the funds of the Palestinians and took much of what was earmarked for their betterment and built his own little financial empire which consisted of among other things hotels in places like the Swiss Alps.  An argument can be made that he did more to harm the Palestinians than any Israeli government ever could.

So when people proudly stand up and declare themselves anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, I hear the words Final Solution all over again.  You want to criticize the government or its leadership, go ahead.  But if you are going to oppose its very core I am going to call you what you are, a hater of Jews, also known as an anti-Semite.

For all those who need hope…

To all those in Israel, Holland, England, Australia, Germany, France, India, Pakistan, Singapore,  Sweden, Philipines,  Spain, Poland, and of course the United States of America who are viewing my blog, THANK YOU!

Now tell all your friends and tell them to tell all of theirs.  Let them know about the book Jew Face.  I look around and see many people today who have lost hope because of everyday difficulties and struggles and hope that knowing this story will help in some way.  Everyone needs inspiration and those who have read the book so far have at the very least seen how people can come from the worst situation, the brink of personal devastation, and built a life of joy, fulfillment, and love.

So tell your friends.  Let them have the opportunity to decide if they want to reap the benefits of this story.